Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Review, Really!

I have just read a story by an author who, in my view, gave me a realistic view of Jurassic Park. My favorite story in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction's July issue is The Dinosaur Train, by James L. Cambias.

There are few dinosaurs in Cambias's world. Of course Disney has some. And the teen protagonist's grandfather owns a dinosaur circus. When one of grandpa's dinosaurs gets sick, he feeds her a concoction containing some leaves and Dr Pepper, as instructed by the woman who sold him the dinosaurs decades before.

The dinosaur throws the Dr. Pepper concoction up at a performance of the circus show. At another time a scientist says that it sounds like the dinosaur has a spleen infection like he recently saw and diagnoses a common antibiotic. That is exactly how doctors work. "Hm, sounds like it's probably X. Try the usual solution."

Cambias writes about real people dealing with a mostly unknown creature. Cambias's scientists sound like real doctors, not like Crichton's supergeniuses.

Another realistic aspect of Cambias's story is the way that the dinosaur circus drew huge crowds decades ago, when dinosaurs had just been rediscovered, but now the circus is limping along amid a public that has accepted and grown bored with dinosaurs. The unjaded children are the biggest fans, along with the very old, nostalgic fans. Perfect.

Cambias's characters are real. Grandson ready to choose a career, favoring inheriting the dinosaur circus, while his father counsels education. Grandpa, who has spent decades standing up against a government that is looking for an excuse to confiscate his dinos, thinking they can do a better job (I love it!), has been hardened into unreasonable stubborness. Yes, he is the biggest dinosaur of all.

The writing is smooth. The story structure is strong.

I loved it.

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